I just wanted to share my personal story of our IVF experience and how it was not as we expected.
When me and my husband were newlyweds, we decided to try the old fashioned way to have children. I got pregnant many times quite easily, but being 34 years old at the time, my eggs were on their way to low grade quality – or so I was told. I had many miscarriages and ended up going to a specialty clinic to help me deal with it. They ran tests and found out I was hypothyroid and needed blood thinners as well being borderline lupus, so I ended up taking pills for this along with the multi vitamins, iron supplements, etc.
I even went so far as to go to acupuncture to increase fertility for a few months as suggested by my doctor. I don’t think she really believed in it, but in her words – it wouldn’t hurt. That didn’t help much to be honest, although I’m sure it works for some people.
Fast forward a couple years later. Still no success.
I finally convinced my husband to consider IVF treatment since by this time I was 37 and my biological clock wasn’t just ticking – it was pounding. I was so tired of having miscarriage after miscarriage as it was heartbreaking. I wanted a shortcut to having a baby and I knew that isolating my good eggs at my age – statistically – would give me a good shot of having a baby – or two – or three – all on one try. As long as I didn’t become an octo-mom, I would be happy with more than one.
My husband was reluctant to go because of the expenses, but I told him we only have a limited window before it’s too late. We made an appointment which took about a month to get in.
This wasn’t the first time we had been to this clinic. We had a first trimester screening there for one of my pregnancies so I was familiar with the staff, layout, and what to expect. They started with a consultation with the doctor. He needed to meet with both me and my husband, so we both took time from work.
The doctor needed to have us both go through a series of tests. My husband’s tests were pretty basic; just a sperm sample which needed to be delivered to the lab in a very timely manner, as well as few blood tests like for STD’s.(He passed out getting his blood drawn – but that’s another story).
My tests were quite a bit more complex. In addition to the blood tests, I had to get an HSG x-ray to check the condition of my tubes to see if there might be blockages. I also had a FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) test which is essentially a blood test. Any score higher than 10 on an FSH test was considered unlucky when it came to fertility. All of these test results came back good. It was looking like I was a great candidate for in vitro fertilization.
I then had an ultrasound test to check my follicle count. The doctor expected to see about twice as many as he did for someone my age. Big strike against me in the fertility department. I was worried this meant I wouldn’t be able to go through the treatment, but the doctor told me there is still a chance. So we started preparing.
Preparation for IVF meant having your monthly cycle controlled by medication. At first, I was prescribed birth control, which seemed counter-intuitive. Then I was put on a rigorous injectible drug regime to induce your body to produce a lot of eggs. There was training to show how to give yourself the shots in the stomach as well as how to prepare. I was horrible with needles, but to me it was so worth it for the potential prize at the end.
During this time, I went back every few days to the clinic before work to get blood tests. After a little over a week, I met with the doctor to get an ultrasound done to determine how many eggs had grown after the fertility drugs. To my surprise and his, I was a poor responder. I only had about 3 eggs total grow, and he expected well over 10, maybe even 16. This meant my chances were much lower of IVF being successful for me. The doctor suggested that because of the low egg count, we convert the treatment to the less successful IUI. We were told IUI success rates were slim compared to IVF, but that at egg counts lower than 3, this is the route they would take. As for the numbers compared, IUI success rates are around 15-20% vs IVF success rates at about 50-55% for IVF. I was so disappointed. It felt like I was undergoing a min ivf instead of a full-fledged procedure to get the maximum count.
By this time, we had already pre-paid thousands of dollars for the IVF treatment I was expecting to undergo. Luckily they were able to refund this back, and I started IUI treatment.
It was a much simpler procedure. In fact, it was all done with a nurse and a long device that looked like a medical turkey baster with my husband’s washed sperm. (Yes – they have to do that). After it was over, you just lie back for about 10 minutes in the room and then go home and see if it “takes”.
Well – 2 weeks later I was sent for a blood test to see if I was pregnant and it came back negative. Quite disappointing again.
We decided to try a second time for IVF. The doctor put me on a much larger dose of drugs to see if I would produce more eggs. It didn’t work ….again. I produced just 2 eggs. I just did not seem to respond well to the drugs, so this time I was also downgraded to IUI.
At this point, I had given up hope. I thought the odds of having a child were so slim that it would never happen.
This time my luck had changed. I got a positive pregnancy test back and this pregnancy stuck unlike the previous miscarriages! I was so elated that I couldn’t wait to meet my child – who was born healthy 10 days passed my due date. It was love at first site.
I felt so lucky to have one child, that I didn’t dream of having a second, but I wanted to try and give my daughter a sibling. I went back to the same clinic two years later to chat with the doctor about my odds of having another child. This time I had just turned 40 weeks before. He told me my odds even with IVF were so slim especially given my history and older age, but that we could move forward if I liked but it might not be worth all the time and money invested. I said I still wanted to try and he sent me for another HSG test, as well as the blood tests and FSH test.
Fate works very mysteriously. Six days after the next consultation appointment to start treatment, I found out that I was pregnant – naturally. My second child was born healthy – and extremely happy just nine months later:)
It’s a very personal story but I just wanted share it in hopes that other people going through something similar do not give up hope. Sometimes the timing just has to be right.